Feline FIV: symptoms, causes, contagion, treatment and more about the immunodeficiency virus in cats

 Feline FIV: symptoms, causes, contagion, treatment and more about the immunodeficiency virus in cats

Tracy Wilkins

Feline FIV is one of the most well-known diseases among kitty guardians - and one of the most feared as well. Known as feline AIDS, this viral condition directly affects the cat's immune system, leaving its entire organism weakened. No wonder FIV and FeLV are considered some of the most dangerous cat diseases out there. The consequences suffered by a cat with FIV can beBut what is FIV in cats anyway? How is it transmitted? What are its symptoms? How to treat and prevent FIV in cats? The Paws of the House answer all your questions about feline AIDS!

What is FIV in cats?

There is a lot of talk about FIV or feline AIDS, but do you really know what FIV in cats is? FIV is a viral disease caused by the feline immunodeficiency virus. It is an extremely serious condition that leaves the whole organism of the animal vulnerable. The feline immunodeficiency virus is a retrovirus. This type of virus has RNA as its genetic material and has an enzyme called transcriptaseThe viral DNA, however, associates with the cat's own DNA, becoming part of the organism. Because of this mutation, the cat with FIV will have the virus for the rest of its life. This is why feline FIV is so dangerous. Another example of a disease caused by retroviruses is feline leukemia (FeLV).

FIV cats: transmission occurs after contact with saliva or blood of contaminated cat

Transmission of FIV in cats occurs through contact between a healthy cat and the secretions of another contaminated cat. This can happen, for example, through saliva. The most common type of transmission of FIV in cats is through blood, and is very common during cat fights that result in scratches and wounds. There is also the possibility that feline FIV can be transmitted directlyfrom mother to kitten while still in the womb or during breastfeeding, in cases where the mother has feline immunodeficiency virus in her body. However, this type of transmission is rarer.

Feline FIV is also called feline AIDS

FIV in cats is called feline AIDS because of the similarities it has with human AIDS. The feline immunodeficiency virus is part of the same family as the HIV virus that causes human AIDS, but they are different. The main reason FIV in cats is called feline AIDS is because of the symptoms the feline immunodeficiency virus causes, especially in the early stages,It is worth noting that FIV is a virus that only works in cats. This means that FIV does not pass to humans, only to other cats.

Cat with FIV: immune system is directly affected

After being infected with FIV, cats begin to have their white blood cells (the body's defense cells) attacked. As a result, the cells have difficulty in fulfilling their defense mission and, consequently, the immune system is weakened. With the immunity of the cat with FIV very low, other diseases begin to appear much more easily. Any infection, however small, can end upleading to a much more serious problem than it should, as the animal's body is not able to fight it properly.

FIV cats: most common symptoms

The feline AIDS virus is a lentivirus, which means that it acts slowly in the body. Because of this, the disease can take a long time to manifest itself, often taking up to years to begin to appear. The cat with FIV can show very varied symptoms and they do not always appear at the same time. The signs vary according to the cat affected, the stage the disease is in and theThe most noticeable FIV cat symptoms are:

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  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Anorexia
  • Apathy
  • Stomatitis
  • Respiratory problems

Infections, skin sores, and even tumors are much more likely to appear and become something serious because of low immunity. Also, another common sign is the kitten that gets sick and cannot respond well to any treatment, no matter how simple the problem is. So, when you notice any symptoms, no matter how small, be sure to take the kitten for a consultation.

Learn about the stages of feline AIDS

Feline AIDS is divided into up to three stages:

  1. The first is the acute phase, which happens after contamination with the feline immunodeficiency virus. At this time, the FIV virus is replicating in the cat's body and the cat is showing more subtle signs, such as fever and anorexia. The acute phase can last a few months and end up going unnoticed;
  2. The latent or asymptomatic phase comes next. It receives this name because the body manages to leave the action of the feline FIV virus neutralized. The animal can stay for months and even years in this phase, without any apparent symptoms.
  3. Finally, comes the last phase of feline AIDS, which is the phase of progressive immune dysfunction. At this point, the cat's immune system is very weakened and the whole body is weakened. Symptoms appear more intensely, health problems increase and the risk of death is higher.

Diagnosis of feline AIDS is done with laboratory tests

It is very important that feline FIV is diagnosed early on. Diagnosis is achieved through laboratory tests. There are different types of tests, the most common being the ELISA test. However, it is important to mention that cases of very recent disease have a chance of giving a false negative, while kittens with contaminated mothers may have a false positive. Therefore, the ideal to be sure is toto know that you have a cat with FIV is to combine the ELISA with other serological tests and re-test after a few weeks.

Treatment of FIV in cats focuses on controlling symptoms and consequences of the disease

There is no cure for feline AIDS. Cats with FIV will have the virus in their bodies forever and to date there is no medicine or treatment that can eliminate it. However, supportive treatment, which takes care of the symptoms and consequences of FIV, is essential. Every cat with FIV needs frequent veterinary care and regular examinations. Cats with FIV get the following symptomscompromised immunity and the best way to improve it is with a good diet with quality cat food. The stressed cat is a big problem, as irritation ends up contributing to the appearance of diseases. Therefore, prevent stress in cats with interactive toys and gatification of the environment .

How to prevent FIV in cats?

There is no vaccine for feline FIV, but this does not mean that it is impossible to prevent the disease. Indoor breeding, for example, helps prevent FIV in cats from appearing. The kitten that lives at home has less risk of contracting this disease as it will not have contact with infected cats. Cat neutering is also important, as it will decrease the chances of escapes. Putting up protective cat screensin windows, doors and backyards is a way to prevent them from going out into the street. Finally, frequent veterinary follow-up with routine examinations helps to monitor the animal's health, being indispensable for a good quality of life.

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Tracy Wilkins

Jeremy Cruz is a passionate animal lover and dedicated pet parent. With a background in veterinary medicine, Jeremy has spent years working alongside veterinarians, gaining invaluable knowledge and experience in caring for dogs and cats. His genuine love for animals and commitment to their well-being led him to create the blog Everything you need to know about dogs and cats, where he shares expert advice from veterinarians, owners, and respected experts in the field, including Tracy Wilkins. By combining his expertise in veterinary medicine with insights from other respected professionals, Jeremy aims to provide a comprehensive resource for pet owners, helping them understand and address their beloved pets' needs. Whether it's training tips, health advice, or simply spreading awareness about animal welfare, Jeremy's blog has become a go-to source for pet enthusiasts seeking reliable and compassionate information. Through his writing, Jeremy hopes to inspire others to become more responsible pet owners and create a world where all animals receive the love, care, and respect they deserve.